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PDP-Laban backs UST alumnus for House speaker

Thomasian lawyer Lord Allan Velasco was chosen by the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-LABAN), President Rodrigo Duterte’s political party, as their bet for the next House speaker.

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Photo taken from Philippine Daily Inquirer

Thomasian lawyer Lord Allan Velasco was chosen by the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-LABAN), President Rodrigo Duterte’s political party, as their bet for the next House speaker. 

In a statement Wednesday, June 26, Senator Manny Pacquiao, a party stalwart, announced the endorsement of Marinduque representative Velasco as their choice for the House speakership.

Earlier, majority of the PDP-Laban members signed a manifesto stating their support for Velasco. But later in an interview, Duterte said that he will not be endorsing anyone for the post.

The manifesto read: “We are firmly convinced that Representative Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco is imbued with the leadership qualities to steer and unite the entire House of Representatives in the passage of crucial legislative reforms in support of the legislative agenda of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in order to safeguard the country’s economic gains and social progress.”

Further, the manifesto added that Velasco is “the best choice” in leading the 18th Congress “given his experience, competence and strong camaraderie with his colleagues.”

Meanwhile, Duterte, through Malacañang spokesperson Salvador Panelo, reiterated his statement saying that he leaves the position to the capable hands of the members of the Congress. 

He added: “[Duterte] is comfortable with any of the candidates securing the seat of the Speaker of the House of Representatives because they are all his political allies.”

Velasco finished his Bachelor of Laws in the University of Santo Tomas in 2005. Last 2018 in their homecoming, UST Alumni conferred on him Gawad Thomasian Alumni in Government Service Award along with Mocha Uson.

He served as the provincial administrator of Marinduque as well as the chairman of the Marinduque chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

Among his priorities during his term as the provincial tourism council chairman was the improvement in agriculture and eco-tourism. 

Furthermore, as the Chairman of the House Committee on Energy, he passed an act institutionalizing energy efficiency and conservation programs, while advocating for affordable energy and sufficient power supply.

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“The worst has happened in our country” —Gutoc

Civic leader Samira Gutoc aired her frustration on the Duterte administration and its shortcomings to the Marawi natives in the International Human Rights Day rally held at the Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila Tuesday, Dec. 10.

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Rallyists converged in front Mendiola Gate to conclude the International Human Rights Day protest | Jeric Mataga/TomasinoWeb

Civic leader Samira Gutoc aired her frustration on the Duterte administration and its shortcomings to the Marawi natives in the International Human Rights Day rally held at the Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila Tuesday, Dec. 10.

“Presidente, hindi kami luluhod. Lift Martial Law, you have removed us from our homeland. You promised our rehabilitation, you promised our return. That has not happened. Hindi ka rin pala kasi kasing dugo,” Gutoc exclaimed as she spoke in front of progressive groups and other sectoral groups.

“It is not (an) accomplishment na mayroong bahay. Pinatay ang tao, hindi binalik sa kanyang normal na pamumuhunan at pamamahay. Kami ngayon ay mga kawawa dito na nanghihingi at kini-clearing ng DILG [Department of Interior and Local Government] at ang mismong sarili nating LGU [Local Government Units],” she added while directly calling out President Duterte’s supporters.

“The worst has happened in our country, and it’s still happening. When people are not buried, they are not with names, numero lang ang nakikita sa sementeryo, […] and nobody is claiming responsibility,” Gutoc added.

The former senatorial candidate also appealed to current Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno Domagoso, wherein she included the situation of sidewalk vendors around the city being cleared out by the local government.

“Mayor ‘Yorme,’ we appeal to you. Kung talagang panatag [na] tao ka, biktima rin kami, biktima rin ang mga sidewalk vendor! ‘Wag naman walang puso at papaalisin lang kami ng walang relokasyon,” Gutoc reiterated.

Samira Gutoc during the 2019 Senatorial Elections Debate in UST

Despite admitting uncertainty towards the future of her people, Gutoc asserted that the fight for justice continues and they are on the right path.

“Kami sa Mindanao ay konti magsasalita dahil ‘di namin alam kung may bukas pa kami, pero alam namin, tayo ay nasa tama […] walking on holy ground to remember. Kaya ako naka itim ngayon para sa mga namatay na walang hustisya [at] isang siyudad na sinira at hindi na binalik,” Gutoc added.

The International Human Rights Day is observed every December 10 to commemorate the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, proclaiming the inalienable rights of every person. Jose Rafael Ballecer with reports from John Aaron Pangilinan

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Delayed justice in Maguindanao Massacre: ‘Reflection of culture of impunity’

Journalists, along with progressive groups, flocked to Mendiola and held a program to commemorate the victims of Maguindanao Massacre and condemn the continuing culture of impunity and injustice in the country Saturday, Nov. 23.

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Photo by Louise Lampa/TomasinoWeb

Minutes before noon on Nov. 23, 2009, 58 people — 38 of whom were journalists — were massacred in Ampatuan, Maguindanao in what would then be dubbed as the single deadliest attack on reporters and media workers in history. 

A decade later, justice for the victims’ families remain elusive, although already in sight, as the Quezon City Regional Trial Court is set to make its long-awaited decision until December 20 this year, after being granted an extension by the Supreme Court.

Journalists, along with progressive groups, flocked to Mendiola and held a program to commemorate the victims and condemn the continuing culture of impunity and injustice in the country Saturday, Nov. 23.

A reflection of the culture of impunity, injustice

In an ambush interview with TomasinoWeb, Justine Dizon, one of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) board of directors, expressed his dismay over the delay of justice for the victims.

He added that the time spent pursuing justice is a “reflection” of the situation of the justice system and the culture of impunity.

“This time na nailaan na walang hustisya for the past ten years is just a reflection kung paanong ang culture of impunity is plaguing our society right now,” Dizon said.

Dizon further noted: “This is also a reflection of how do we value the freedom of expression […] kung paano i-regard o ituring ang mga media at news organization na kritikal at nagbabalita nang matapat at matapang tungkol sa ating lipunan.”

‘Learn from history’

Bayan Muna representative Carlos Zarate urged people to “learn history” and, according to him, true change can only happen if the whole system that breeds injustices will change.

“Matuto tayong mag-aral ng kasaysayan, na ang tunay na pagbabago ay mangyayari lamang kung nabago rin natin itong umiiral na sistemang nagluluwal ng ganitong mga injustices,” Zarate said.

Zarate further added: “[D]apat baliktarin natin ito, iyang sistemang iyan na nagluluwal ng walang kapanagutan, ng panggigipit, ng maramihang papatay ay baguhin natin.”

Zarate, however, stressed that more Ampatuan massacres and other injustices, especially to the marginalized and the innocent are bound to happen if the state of impunity is continued to be normalized.

“Habang hindi nagbabago, habang ine-enable, ginagawang normal ang pagpatay, marami pang mga Ampatuan Massacre ang mangyayari sa ating bayan, marami pang mga mahihirap at inosente nating mamamayan ang magiging biktima ng inhustisya at impunity,” Zarate said.

Meanwhile, College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) National President Daryl Baybado iterated the importance of a critical campus media, especially during these times.

“Bahagi sa kasaysayan [ng mamahayag pangkampus] ang paglaban sa diktadura ang paglalantad ng inhustisya ng korupsyon at iba’t-iba pang mga usaping panlipunan,” Baybado said. 

He added: “Asahan na magkakaisa hindi lamang ang mga mamamahayag pangkampus kundi lahat ng mga manggagawa sa media upang tutulan, labanan, at kundenahin ang mga harassment.”

Furthermore, Baybado also challenged the Duterte administration to give the people their rights.

“Simple lang ang hamon natin sa administrasyon: ang ibigay ang nararapat sa mamamayan. Hindi natin gusto ang isang lipunan na ipinagangalandakan at ipagsisigaw pa kung ano ang mga karapatan natin,” Baybado told TomasinoWebWith reports from John Aaron Pangilinan

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Abandoning the promise of PH sovereignty an act of betrayal to the country—Ex-Bayan Muna Rep

Former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo said that President Duterte neglecting his promise to assert the Philippines’ sovereignty is an act of betrayal to the country.

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Photo taken from PHILSTAR

Former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo said that President Duterte neglecting his promise to assert the Philippines’ sovereignty is an act of betrayal to the country.

Ocampo stated in an ambush interview with TomasinoWeb that the issue regarding the West Philippine Sea should not be disregarded and undervalued for it concerns the exclusive rights of the Philippines under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“Ang naging issue riyan ay yung nakipag-usap si [President Duterte] kay Xi Jin Ping, pumayag siya na pwede kayo mag-fishing diyan. […] Kung payagan mo ‘yan mangisda sa atin, pakikialaman natin, maliliit lang ang ating boat, malalaki ang kanila. Sila, sasairin na nila yung laman ng dagat. Para sa atin ‘yon,” Ocampo said.

“Balikan niyo ‘yung campaign promise niya noon, on the West Philippine Sea, ang sabi niya ia-assert nya ‘yung Philippine sovereignty, tamang paninindigan iyon. Aayon tayo sa paninindigang iyon. Pero kung ia-abandon niya ‘yon, pagtataksil na iyon sa bayan,” he added.

Moreover, Ocampo mentioned that President Duterte’s prioritization of the anti-drug campaign and his response against the United Nations Human Rights Council were improper.

“Mali ang kanyang prioritization ng anti-drug campaign. Gayong inamin na niya ay hindi niya maso-solve. Pero sabi niya tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang campaign. Sige patay-patayan. Kung alam niya na hindi maso-solve sa pagpatay, bakit ipinagpapatuloy niya ang pagpatay?,” Ocampo said.

Last year, the president admitted that he cannot solve and end the problem with illegal drugs during his term, contrary to what he promised that he will finish it in 3 to 6 months and later on changed to 2 years.

“Mali ang response ng presidente na nagagalit,” the former Bayan Muna Representative said regarding the resolution of UNHRC to review the state of the Philippines during the war on drugs.

“Ang principle dito [ay] sumanib at na-elect ang Pilipinas sa United Nations Human Rights Council. So, bound siya sa action o resolution ng bagay na ‘yon, hindi ‘yun tatanggihan. So, taliwas siya sa ginagawa niya,” Ocampo added.

Kristine Erika Agustin

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